Mecca, Calif. – Students and parents affiliated with Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC) held an action Friday to call on Coachella Valley Unified School District officials to set a date to open long-awaited mental health wellness centers for students at middle and high school sites.
CVUSD committed $4.5 million in May 2021 to establish mental health wellness centers at schools district wide to help address alarming issues related to depression and anxiety among students in K-12 schools. After almost a full school year later, only one wellness center has been opened at Desert Mirage High School – with no immediate action or indication by school district officials of opening centers at other schools. Students and parents during the action asked questions related to the opening of future centers, staffing levels and funding support.
“We want our school district leaders to keep their word about the establishment of wellness centers because students deserve mental health support,” reads a statement from the Coachella Valley Youth group that is composed of Local Organizing Committees (LOCs) across the Coachella Valley. “Students cannot continue to afford to wait any longer to have these important mental health support spaces opened.”
The need for student mental health support has been further elevated by the economic and health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Hunger remains at record levels in the area due to COVID-19 and suicide and depression rates statewide have severely impacted thousands of students who been forced to navigate existing stressors with the realities of the pandemic.
“Parents are already juggling the stressors of having to make rent or put food on the table. And our children are also suffering from those impacts,” says Maria “Conchita” Pozar, parent leader. “We appreciate the initial steps the district has made to prioritize mental health, but our children need immediate action now.”
ICUC students and parents expect a follow up meeting with CVUSD board president Blanca Hall within the next 60 days to discuss future funding and expansion of wellness centers.